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Understanding and Caring for Prediabetes

Smiling woman giving high five to her friend after exercising. Woman looking happy after a successful workout session outdoors.

Eighty-six million Americans are affected by prediabetes. Prediabetes means your blood sugar is higher than it should be, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Your doctor can use a blood test to see if your blood sugars are within the normal range or if you are at risk of developing prediabetes/diabetes. A blood sugar level from 140-199mg/dL is considered prediabetes. If your blood sugar is 200mg/dL or higher, it could mean that you have diabetes.

Without lifestyle changes or interventions, prediabetes can progress to diabetes quickly (usually within 10 years or less). And diabetes can cause serious health problems like blindness, amputations, stroke, and heart disease. It’s scary to think you might have prediabetes. But the good news is that lifestyle changes are extremely effective at stopping or slowing the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.


Signs and symptoms of prediabetes

Prediabetes usually has no signs or symptoms. If you have any of the following risk factors, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about prediabetes:

  • You are overweight (BMI>25).
  • You don’t exercise or sit most of the day.
  • You are 45 years old or older.
  • Diabetes runs in your family.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • Your cholesterol numbers are not ideal.

Fortunately, prediabetes and even diabetes can be controlled or reversed with diet and exercise. The Diabetes Prevention Program was a major research project that looked at what could help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Out of the people who exercised for 30 minutes a day and lost 7 percent of their body weight, 58 percent did not develop type 2 diabetes AT ALL! Of the overweight individuals who lost 10 percent or more of their weight, 90 percent did not develop type 2 diabetes AT ALL!


How to get help

Making healthy lifestyle changes like eating better and losing weight are extremely important if you have prediabetes. If you want to start making these changes but aren’t sure where to start, you are in luck! UPMC Health Plan members have health coaching available at no cost. Health coaches can help you learn to eat better, exercise more, or lose weight. Health coaches provide guidance, support, encouragement, and expert knowledge to help you meet all of your goals.

If you’re interested in getting one-on-one support from a health coach, as well as your PCP, ask your doctor about a prescription for wellness, or call 1-855-395-8762 to speak directly to a health coach to get started.